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Difference In Social Relations Between City Dwellers And Rural Communities

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Why are the social relations between urban and rural areas so different and what causes these differences to occur? This question is what I am going to be arguing. I will be doing this not only through my opinions and ideas, but also through the works of Georg Simmel, Louis Wirth and Ernest Burgess. All three of these urban scholars add a slightly different view of urbanism as a way of life.

Georg Simmel's interpretation of interpersonal social relations in the city is one based on the stimulus a person comes in contact with. Simmel writes this in his essay, "The Metropolis and Mental Life." He clearly states, "The intensification of emotional life due to the swift and continuous shift of external and internal stimuli." (Blackwell, 11) This stimulus can be ones that leave a lasting impression on you or they can be ones that have only a subconscious effect on you.

A lasting impression would be a stimulus from some one or some thing that causes you to always remember that stimulus and react a certain way to it every time to encounter it. For example, if you were to get mugged in any ally way, every time you would encounter an ally way again you would either be scared to go through it or purposely try to avoid it. Your brain would remember a negative stimulus that left a lasting impression on you. This can work both ways for both a positive stimulus and for a negative stimulus.

A stimulus where your subconscious is affected can also be called the blasй attitude. A good example of the transformation of this is when a person moves into a city like New York from a rural area. When the person first arrives, the city will seem very fast paced and noisy, but as you keep encountering these stimuli you start to become less effected by them and eventually you forget that they are there all together. In a month or so, you will eventually not notice the fast pace or the noise around you.

Simmel's interpretation of interpersonal social relations in the city is one that can be seen more clearly through the comparison of an urbanized area, to that of a rural area. There is a drastic distinction between the two areas, not only physically, but emotionally as well. Simmel writes that, "The essentially intellectualistic character of the mental life of the metropolis becomes intelligible as over against that of the small town which rests more on feelings and emotional relationships." (Blackwell, 12) My interpretation of what Simmel is saying here is that there is a battle between intelligence and emotion, where the social relations in the city is based on intelligence and the social relations in rural areas is based on emotion.

In a rural town the lower population and population density allows for you to make a more emotional connection with the people and your surroundings. You get to know most of the people you live with and you tend to interact with them more often, which allows you to make this emotional connection with them. Also, the make up of the demographics and psychographics is much different in rural areas. The demographics and psychographics will be more geared towards that of your own, which will allow for a more emotional social relationship.

In contrast to rural areas, the social relationship in the city is much different. Simmel writes, "Instead of reacting emotionally, the metropolitan type reacts primarily in a rational manner, thus creating a mental predominance through the intensification of consciousness, which in turn is caused by it." (Blackwell, 12) You are able to walk down the same street in any major metropolis and not see the same person twice. This allows you to never make an emotional connection with people. The kind of interaction between people that is offered in rural towns is not the same that is offered in big cities. For example, if go to get a cup of coffee before work in a rural town, at the same place, you will develop an emotional relationship with the person you buy the coffee from. In the city, the large population never allows you and the vendor to make that same emotional connection, therefore making your relationship strictly one of exchange, that will please both the consumer and provider.

Simmel's work overlaps with that of Louis Wirth. Most notably their work overlaps in the struggle to define the social relationships that are made in urban societies to those that are made in rural communities. Wirth conveys this message in his work called, "Urbanism as a Way of Life." Wirth writes, "The superficiality, the anonymity, and the transitory character of urban-social relations make intelligible, also, the sophistication and the rationality generally ascribed to city dwellers." (Metropolis, 68) Both Wirth and Simmel are aware that the social relationships of city dwellers are ones based on intelligence and rationality and are removed of emotion. However, with Wirth, I would like to focus on his idea that a city is not only high in population, but it is also high density and high heterogeneity and how these things play a role in the social relationships of rural and urban communities.

First, I would like to look at the competition levels between city dwellers and people in rural communities. The high population and high density play a huge role in the amount of competition that takes place in the city, compared to the amount that takes place in rural communities. The sheer number of people and the relatively small area that they share cause the competition level to rise exponentially. Also, the lack of emotional connections between city dwellers brings in a sort of cut throat attitude. Wirth writes, "The close living together and working together of individuals who have no sentimental and emotional ties foster a spirit of competition, aggrandizement, and mutual exploitation." (Metropolis, 71) As for the competition of a rural community, it would be much less. One reason is the lack of people and the smaller market. The other reason, which is mostly for small business, is the emotional ties. No one is going to start a business and go into competition with someone they have known their whole life. They would find that to be unethical, where as a person in a large city would not have those same feeling.

Secondly, I would like to take a look at the depersonalization that takes place to do to the heterogeneity of cities. Wirth writes, "Wherever large numbers of differently constituted individuals congregate, the process of depersonalization also enters." (Metropolis, 73) In cities, diversity causes people of ethnic and religious backgrounds to come together and form groups. This leads to the specialization of these groups. For example, most dry cleaners are owned by Asians and most jewelry stores being owned by Jews. People in the city



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